From Charas Project

A chipset is a set of sprites (game graphics) used to map out the game world in an RPG Maker game. It is a single file (480 x 256 pixels) that holds the sprites for both background and foreground objects. Each sprite is 16 x 16 pixels, and either made of one or more 16 x 16 tiles or composed of tile pieces by the computer within the game.



Any of the tiles can be made partially transparent. Transparent areas in foreground tiles will show the background tiles through them, and transparent areas in background tiles will show either black or a background picture through them. A single color must be used as the transparency color throughout the file; the color usually chosen is pink or green, although sometimes blue, black, white, or grey will be used; it can in fact be any color you choose. Any pixel left in that color will be transparent, so you cannot use that particular shade to draw things; if you want to use black or white as the transparency color, you must use a slightly off shade (say, 5, 5, 5 or 250, 250, 250) for any black or white areas in your tiles.

Tile Categories

RPG Maker uses the chipset file to create six types of animated tiles, twelve autotiles, 144 background tiles, and 143 partially transparent foreground tiles.

Animated Tiles

The first three sets of tiles are interrelated and generally used for animated water. Two of the sets are used for the shallow water and to account for the edge where water touches the land. The third set is used for deep water, and uses the first set as its edge when it touches anything.

Three other four-frame animations are available. These are still 16 x 16 tiles, but can be joined creatively to make, say, a 2 x 1 fireplace, a 1 x 2 moving statue, or a wide yet not monotonous waterfall (by varying the tiles used). These are background tiles, and while you can set them to star (so that the hero can walk behind them), you cannot put backgrounds behind them--hence, you must give them a proper background yourself (preferably not, say, a black square, unless you're doing a night scene).


The next twelve sets of tiles are patterns for the computer to use to paint large, joined sections, such as fields of grass or snow. A single set shows the computer how to draw the middle and every edge, as well as internal and external corners. This way, you don't need to worry about any of the details of which area needs a corner or where the edges fall--you just draw the trees and let the computer take care of how they join up.

Background Tiles

The next 144 tiles are background tiles. Background tiles are generally left without transparency, although a common tile is the diagonally transparent glass floor, which can be used over a background image depicting, say, a star field. While autotiles such as grass, dirt, and snow provide good blank canvases for foreground tiles, the general background tiles are often more complex: floors, walls, roofs, rocks, and so on. However, you can still add paintings to the walls, barrels to the floors, and weathervanes to the roofs.

The Background Transparency Tile

The last background tile is generally a blank square of whatever color is used as the transparency. It can be used for sections where you want a background image to show through. This is a good way to show a sky (still or animated): for example, clouds, a sunset, or a star field. It can also be used for bizarre dungeons in which you can't see the objects around you but instead see a kaleiodoscopic background.

The Foreground Transparency Tile

The last 144 tiles are foreground tiles. However, the first foreground tile is necessarily blank (unlike the last background tile, which need not be blank). It is left as a square of whatever color you're using for the transparency (generally pink or green). RPG Maker uses this first foreground tile as the default foreground tile for every square on the map. If, say, a flower were in that square, the entire map would start out covered by flowers (not just on the ground, either).

Foreground Tiles

After the Foreground Transparency Tile, the last 143 tiles are foreground tiles. These are sprites to be placed atop background tiles so that part of the background tile (usually) shows through. The areas that are transparent are colored in the chosen transparency color (usually pink or green, but you can choose any color you like), and the background tiles placed behind them will show through in those transparent areas. For example, a statue may be placed on a marble floor, on the grass, or in the middle of a stone dungeon, and the transparent areas of the statue tiles will show marble, grass, or stone. Some foreground tiles, such as bridges and stairwells, have no transparent areas, in which case nothing of the background tile will show through.


Overlapping the Hero

This is most common with roofs and cliffs, where the edges are diagonal. If you have, say, a roof that the hero cannot climb on top of, you make most of it from square background roof tiles that the hero walks behind, then make the edges from diagonal foreground tiles that the hero also walks behind.

Using Multiple Foreground Tiles

You can use multiple foreground tiles by making a single foreground tile and then putting over it events using the other foreground tiles you want. This technique will allow you to, for example, set up a table on a tile floor, and then put a plate of food on the table.

How to Create Your Own Chipset

(If no one else creates this section, I'll eventually get in here and make it myself.)

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